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           Byron A. Dunn
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The Courier of the Ozarks


  Produced by David Garcia, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (Thisfile was produced from images generously made availableby The Kentuckiana Digital Library)

  THE COURIER OF THE OZARKS

  THE YOUNG MISSOURIANS SERIES

  BY BYRON A. DUNN

  AUTHOR OF "THE YOUNG KENTUCKIANS" SERIES

  WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY H. S. DeLAY

  CHICAGO A. C. McCLURG & CO. 1912

  Copyright A. C. McCLURG & CO. 1912

  Published September, 1912

  W. F. HALL PRINTING COMPANY, CHICAGO

  _To the Loyal Men of Missouri, who as members of the militia did so much to save the State to the Union, this book is dedicated. History gives them scant notice, and the Federal government has failed to reward them as they deserve._

  "Follow the colors," he shouted.]

  PREFACE

  During the year 1862, after the capture of Island No. 10 and New Madrid,no large armies operated in Missouri; but the State was the theater of adesperate guerrilla warfare, in which nearly or quite a hundred thousandmen took part. It was a warfare the magnitude of which, at the presenttime, is very little known; and its cruelty and barbarity make a bloodypage in the history of those times.

  This book is a story of this warfare. It is a story of adventure, ofhair-breadth escapes, and of daring deeds. In it the same charactersfigure as those in _With Lyon in Missouri_ and _The Scout of Pea Ridge_.It tells how our young heroes were instrumental in thwarting the greatconspiracy by which the Confederate government, by sending officers intothe State, and organizing the different guerrilla bands into companiesand regiments, was in hopes of wresting the State from Federal control.

  As in former books, history is closely followed.

  BYRON A. DUNN. Waukegan, Illinois. _August, 1912._

  CONTENTS

  I BRUNO CARRIES A MESSAGE

  II AN INTERNECINE WAR

  III A MYSTERIOUS COMMUNICATION

  IV MOORE'S MILL

  V A FIGHT IN THE NIGHT

  VI KIRKSVILLE

  VII POINDEXTER CAPTURED

  VIII LONE JACK

  IX CAPTURED BY GUERRILLAS

  X THE GUERRILLA'S BRIDE

  XI THE STORY OF CARL MEYER

  XII THE NEWS FROM CORINTH

  XIII PORTER CAPTURES PALMYRA

  XIV TEN LIVES FOR ONE

  XV A GIRL OF THE OZARKS

  XVI A WOUNDED CONFEDERATE

  XVII TRAILING RED JERSEY

  XVIII LIVE--I CANNOT SHOOT YOU

  XIX MARK HAS A RIVAL

  XX CAPTURING A TRAIN

  XXI THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS

  XXII MARK CONFESSES HIS LOVE

  XXIII INTO THE LION'S MOUTH

  XXIV PRAIRIE GROVE

  XXV CALLED TO OTHER FIELDS

  ILLUSTRATIONS

  "Follow the colors," he shouted.

  "Halt the advance. Ambuscade!" gasped Harry.

  Down the street they rode at full speed.

  "You pretend to be men and call this war?"

  To catch the rider as he reeled from the saddle.

  Her revolver was pointed at his breast.

  He was looking into the muzzle of a revolver.

  An old man leaning on a staff.

  THE COURIER OF THE OZARKS

  CHAPTER I

  BRUNO CARRIES A MESSAGE

  "Down! Bruno, down!"

  These words were uttered in a guarded whisper by a boy about seventeenyears of age, to a great dog that stood by his side.

  At the word of command, the dog crouched down, his whole body quiveringwith excitement. His master gently patted him on the head, andwhispered, "There, there, old fellow, don't get nervous. Our lives wouldnot be worth much, if we were discovered."

  The boy was lying full length on the ground, concealed in a densethicket, but from his point of vantage he had a full view of the roadwhich ran a few yards in front of him. This road ran north and south,and nearly in front of where he lay another road entered it, coming infrom the west.

  The cause of the dog's excitement was apparent, for coming up the roadfrom the west was a large body of horsemen, and a motley troop theywere. They were mostly dressed in homespun, and armed with all sorts ofweapons, from cavalry sabers to heavy knives fashioned out of files bysome rude blacksmith; the army musket, the squirrel rifle, and theshotgun were much in evidence.

  As the head of the column reached the north and south road the leadercalled a halt, and looked up and down the road, as if expecting someone. He did not have long to wait. The sound of the swift beating ofhorse-hoofs was heard from the south, and soon three men came riding up.One, a man of distinguished looks and military bearing, was a little inadvance of the other two. As he came up, the leader of the little armysaluted him awkwardly and exclaimed, "Glad to see you, Colonel. Whatnews?"

  "Glad to see you, Captain Poindexter," replied the Colonel. "I see youare on time. As for the news, all goes well. Within a week all Missouriwill be ablaze, and the hottest place for Yankees in all Christendom.How many men have you, Captain?"

  "About five hundred, and more coming in all the time."

  "So that is Jim Poindexter, the bloody villain," muttered the boybetween his set teeth, and nervously fingering his revolver. "How Iwould like to take a shot at him! But it would not do. It would bemadness."

  The next question asked by the Colonel, whose name was Clay, and who hadbeen in the State for the past two months promoting the partisanuprising, was, "Where is Porter?"

  "At Brown's Springs. I am to join him there tonight. But he was to meetme here with a few followers, knowing you were to be here."

  "Good! I will be more than pleased to see him," answered Colonel Clay."But I thought he was farther north."

  "Most of his force is," answered Poindexter. "But he promised to meet meat Brown's Springs with five hundred followers. We have our eye onFulton. My spies report it is garrisoned by less than a hundred men.Fulton captured, I can supply my men with both clothes and arms, andthen Jefferson City next."

  "Jefferson City?" asked Colonel Clay in surprise. "Do you look thatfar?"

  "Yes. Thanks to the Yankee Government, there are not over five hundredsoldiers in Jefferson City. Fulton once taken, the boys will flock toour standard by thousands, and Jefferson City will become an easy prey."

  "Accomplish this, Poindexter," cried Colonel Clay, "and Missouri will beredeemed. All over southwestern Missouri the boys are rallying andsweeping northward. The object is to capture Independence, and thenLexington. This done, we will once more control the Missouri River, andthe State will be anchored firmly in the Southern Confederacy. Then withyour victorious legions you can march south and help drive the Yankeeinvaders from the land. Poindexter, Missouri can, and should, put fiftythousand Confederate soldiers in the field."

  Poindexter shrugged his shoulders. "Colonel, not so fast," he exclaimed."I could not drag my men into the regular Confederate service with atwo-inch cable. Neither do I have any hankering that way myself. Thefree and easy life of a partisan ranger for me."

  Colonel Clay looked disgusted. "Captain," he asked, "don't you get tiredof skulking in the brush, and waging a warfare which is really contraryto the rules of war of civilized nations? There is little honor in sucha warfare; but think of the honor and glory that would await you if youcould free Missouri, and then help free the entire South. Why, it is nottoo much to say that the star of a general might glisten on yourshoulder."

  A look of rage came over the face of Poindexter. "If you don't like theway we fight," he growled, "why are you
here, urging us to rise? If wecan free this State of Yankees, we will accomplish more than your armiesdown south have. We prefer to fight our own way. Here, I am a bigger manthan Jeff Davis. I fight when it suits me, and take to the brush when Iwant to. If you have any thoughts of influencing me or my men to jointhe regular Confederate army, you may as well give up the idea. As forthe rules of civilized warfare, I don't care that," and he snapped hisfingers contemptuously.

  Colonel Clay concealed the indignation and disgust which he felt towardsthe fellow, and said: "While we may not think alike, we are both workingfor the same cause--the liberation of our beloved Southland from theruthless invasion of the Yankee hordes. If you can accomplish what youthink, surely the South will call you one of her most gallant sons.Neither should we be too squeamish over the means used to rid ourselvesof the thieves and murderers that have overrun our fair State."

  "Now you are talking," exclaimed Poindexter, with an oath. "If Portercomes--and he should be here by now--we will discuss the situation morethoroughly; but the first thing for us to do is to capture Fulton."

  "Are you sure," asked Clay, "that your plans will not miscarry? Mr.Daniels, one of the gentlemen here with me, informs me that thatregiment of devils, the Merrill Horse, is only a few miles to the west.May they not interfere with your plans?"

  At the mention of the Merrill Horse, Poindexter's countenance took on ademoniac expression. Striking the pommel of his saddle with his clenchedhand, he hissed: "I will never rest until I shoot or hang every one ofthat cursed regiment. But you are mistaken in thinking the force westconsists of the entire Merrill Horse. Only part of the regiment isthere; the rest is up north. The force west is about five hundredstrong. I have given out the impression that I am making for the woodswhich skirt Grand River, to join Cobb. Every citizen they meet will tellthem so. Little does Colonel Shaffer, who is in command, think I haveslipped past him, McNeil believes Porter is up around Paris--the most ofhis force is--but he is to join me here with a goodly number. Ah! herehe comes now."

  Down the road from the north a party of horsemen were coming at a swiftgallop. They rode up, and salutations were spoken and hands shaken.

  A look of passion came into the face of the watching boy, and again hefingered his revolver. Even the dog partook of the boy's excitement, forhis whole body was quivering.

  "Quiet, old boy, quiet," whispered the boy. "No doubt you would like totear the bloody monster to pieces, and I would give ten years of my lifefor a shot, but it will not do."

  The boy was now listening intently, trying to catch every word that wassaid.

  "Mighty glad to see you, Jo," Poindexter was saying. "How many men haveyou at Brown's Springs?"

  "About four hundred when I left; but squads were coming in continually.I count on six hundred by night."

  "Good! Then we will swoop down on Fulton tonight."

  "Don't know about that," answered Porter. "Many of the boys have ridden,or will ride, fifty miles to join us. Their horses will be tired.Tomorrow will be all right. How is everything?"

  "Splendid," answered Poindexter, rubbing his hands. "Not over a hundredsoldiers in Fulton. The only drawback is that there is a Yankee force ofabout five hundred a few miles to the west, part of them the MerrillHorse."

  "The Merrill Horse! The Merrill Horse!" cried Porter with a dreadfuloath. "I thought they were north. They are surely giving me enoughtrouble up there."

  "About four companies are down here, under the command ofLieutenant-Colonel Shaffer," answered Poindexter. "They have been tryingto find me for the past week. But they haven't found me yet," and hechuckled. "The fact is," he continued, "I have fooled them. Shafferthinks I am making for the woods along the Grand River, to join Cobb. Iskipped past him last night. By this time he is making for the GrandRiver as fast as he can go. No trouble from him in our little businesswith Fulton."

  "Don't be too sure," exclaimed Porter. "Shaffer is about as sharp as thedevil; but I trust you are right."

  The conversation now took a general turn, Colonel Clay going over theground, telling them what was being done, and what he hoped would beaccomplished. "As for me," he said, "I must be across the river bytomorrow. Everything depends on the movement to capture Independence andLexington. Then, if you gentlemen are successful here, and captureFulton and Jefferson City, our brightest hopes will be fulfilled. I mustnow bid you good-bye. May success attend you."

  The Colonel and his two friends rode back towards the south, from whencethey came. Poindexter watched them until they were out of sight, andthen, turning to Porter, said: "What do you think, Jo? The Colonelwanted me and my men to join the regular Confederate army."

  "Humph!" sniffed Porter, "I reckon you jumped at the chance."

  "Not much; but he did more. He mentioned that I was not conducting thisblood-letting business strictly on the rules of genteel, scientificmurder."

  "I reckon, before we indulged in a necktie party, he would want us tosay, 'Beg pardon, sir, but I am under the painful necessity of hangingyou,'" replied Porter, indulging in a coarse laugh.

  "I told him," continued Poindexter, "we fought as we pleased, and askedno favors of General Price, Jeff Davis, or any other man. As for theConfederate service, none of it for me."

  "They have offered me a colonelcy, if I take my men down into Arkansas,"answered Porter. "If it gets too hot for me here I may go. You knowthere is a price on my head. But I must go, or my boys will be gettinguneasy. Join me at the Springs as soon as possible." Thus saying, he andhis party rode away.

  Poindexter ordered his men to fall in, and they followed Porter, but ata more leisurely gait.

  When the last one had disappeared, the boy arose and shook himself."What do you think of that, Bruno?" he asked, patting the dog's head.The dog stood with hanging head and tail, as if ashamed he had let somany of his enemies get away unharmed. He looked up in his master's faceand whined at the question, as much as to say, "I don't like it."

  "Well, my boy, there is the Old Nick to pay. Both Porter and Poindexteron the warpath. Fulton to be attacked, and not a hundred men to defendit. Shaffer with the boys miles away. How are both to be warned? We mustsee, old fellow, we must see. There is no time to lose."

  Thus saying, the boy hurriedly made his way back through the woods wherein a hollow in the midst of a dense thicket a horse stood concealed.Those who have read "The Scout of Pea Ridge" will readily recognize theboy as Harry Semans, and Bruno as his celebrated trained dog. After thebattle of Pea Ridge and upon the dissolution of the company of scoutsunder the command of Captain Lawrence Middleton, Harry had returned toMissouri, and become a scout for the Merrill Horse. The Merrill Horse,officially known as the Second Missouri Cavalry, was a regiment composedof companies from Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan.

  It can safely be said that no other regiment in the Federal army eversaw more service in fighting guerrillas than did the Merrill Horse. Fromthe very first of the war their work was to help exterminate theguerrilla bands which infested the State. The name "Merrill Horse"became a terror to every bushwhacker and guerrilla in Missouri. Notrail was so obtuse, no thicket so dense that members of that regimentwould not track them to their lair. A true history of the Merrill Horse,and the adventures of its different members, would read like the mostexciting fiction.

  When Harry reached his horse he stood for a moment in deep thought, andthen speaking to Bruno, said: "Yes, old boy, you must do it. I know youcan, can't you?"

  Bruno gave a bark and wagged his tail as if to say, "Try me."

  Tearing a leaf from a blank book, Harry wrote a brief note to ColonelShaffer, telling him what had happened, and begging him to march withall speed to Fulton. This note he securely fastened to Bruno's collarand said, "Bruno, go find Colonel Shaffer and the boys. You know wherewe left them. Go."

  For a moment Bruno stood and looked up in his master's face, as ifundecided.

  "Go and find Colonel Shaffer. Go," Harry repeated, sternly.

  The dog turned and was away like a shot. H
arry gazed after him until hewas out of sight, then patting the glossy neck of his horse, said, "Now,Bess, it's you and I for Fulton; the machinations of those twoarchfiends, Poindexter and Porter, must be brought to naught."

  Harry believed he would have no trouble in reaching Fulton, as theguerrillas were generally quiet near a place garrisoned by Federaltroops, therefore he took the main road, as he was desirous of reachingFulton as soon as he possibly could. He had not gone more than two mileswhen he met two men, rough-looking fellows, whom Harry had no desire tomeet, but there was no way to avoid it, except flight, so he rode boldlyforward.

  Harry was dressed in the homespun of the country, and had all theappearance of a country bumpkin. As to arms, none were visible, butstowed away beneath his rough jacket was a huge navy revolver, and Harrywas an adept in the use of it.

  "Hello, youn' feller," cried one of the men. "Whar be yo' goin' in sicha hurry? Halt, and give an account of yo'self."

  "Goin' to Fulton, if the Yanks will let me," drawled Harry. "Whar be yo'uns goin'?"

  "That 's nun yo' business. Air yo 'un Union or Confed?"

  "Which be yo'uns?"

  "Look heah, young feller, nun of yo' foolin'. I reckon yo' air a Yank indisguise. That 's a mighty fine hoss yo 'un air ridin'. 'Spose we 'unstrade."

  "'Spose we 'uns don't."

  During this conversation Harry's right hand was resting beneath hisjacket, grasping the butt of his revolver.

  "I reckon we 'uns will," jeered the fellow, reaching for his pistol.

  Quick as a flash Harry had covered him with his revolver. Fortunatelyfor him, the two men were close together. "Hands up," he ordered. "Amove, a motion to draw a weapon, and one or both of you will die. Itdon't pay to fool with one of Porter's men."

  The hands of both went up, but one exclaimed, "One of Porter's men? Beyo' one of Porter's men? We 'uns are on our way to join him. We 'unsheard he was at Brown's Springs."

  "Yo 'uns will find him thar. I am taking a message from him to a friendin Fulton. Yo 'uns can lower your hands. I reckon we 'uns understandeach other now."

  "We 'uns certainly do," said one of the men, as they dropped theirhands, looking foolish.

  "Wall, good-bye; may see yo 'uns in Fulton tomorrow." And Harry rodeoff, leaving the men sitting on their horses watching him.

  "Ought to have shot both of them," muttered Harry, "but I cannot affordto take any risks just now."

  Harry had no further adventures in reaching Fulton, and at once reportedto Captain Duffield, who was in command of the post.

  Captain Duffield listened to Harry's report with a troubled countenance.

  "A thousand of the devils, did you say?" he asked.

  "Yes, and more coming in every hour."

  "And I have only eighty men," replied Duffield, bitterly. "If theyattack before I can get help, there is no hope for us."

  "Colonel Shaffer is a few miles to the west with about five hundredmen," replied Harry. "If they do not attack tonight, as I do not reckonthey will from what Porter said, he may be here in time to help. I havesent him word."

  "Sent him word? By whom?" asked Outfield, eagerly.

  "By my dog," and Harry explained.

  As Duffield listened, his countenance fell. "I see no hope from that,"he said. "It is preposterous to think that a dog will carry a messagefor miles, and hunt up a man."

  "If you knew Bruno, you would think differently," replied Harry,smiling.

  "I can put no dependence on any such thing," said Duffield. "My onlyhope is getting word to Colonel Guitar, at Jefferson City. If I get anyhelp, it must come from him. God grant that Porter may not attacktonight."

  "I think there is little danger tonight, but they may be down in themorning," said Harry. "Do you think Guitar can reinforce you bymorning?"

  "He must; he must. I will send a message to him by courier mounted onone of my fleetest horses."

  "Bess is about as fast as they make them," replied Harry. "I know thecountry. I will go if you wish."

  Duffield looked at him a moment doubtfully, and then said, "You may go,as you can tell Colonel Guitar all you have told me. But I will send oneof my own men with you."

  Captain Duffield wrote two messages, giving one to Harry, and the otherto the soldier who was to accompany him.

  "If you have trouble," said Captain Duffield, "for the love of Heaven,one of you get through, if the other is killed. The safety of this postdepends on Colonel Guitar receiving the message."

  "It will go through, if I live," calmly replied Harry, as he carefullyconcealed the message in the lining of his coat.

  To Harry's surprise, the soldier detailed to go with him proved to be aboy, not much older than himself. He was mounted on a spirited horse andhis manner showed he was ready for any kind of an adventure, no matterwhere it might lead.

  The shades of night were falling when Captain Duffield bade themgood-bye, and they rode away and were soon lost to view in the dusk.

  Captain Duffield stood looking after them, and then said to one of hislieutenants, "I don't know what to make of that boy. He told a straightstory, but his thinking that dog of his would take a message to Shafferis a little too much to believe."

  But Captain Duffield soon had other things to think about. Reports beganto come in from other sources of the gathering of the guerrillas atBrown's Springs, and their number was augmented to two thousand. Heposted his little force in the best manner possible to resist an attack,and with an anxious heart, watched and waited through the long hours ofthe night; but to his immense relief, no attack came.

 
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